BEEF Daily

Which Forages Do You Utilize In The Fall? Plus Win Heat Holders® Socks


Here’s another chance to win a pair of Heat Holders® socks for joining the day’s discussion about fall forages.

We’ve finished our fall cattle work, and weaning, preg-checking, and corn harvest are behind us. Meanwhile, the cowherd is enjoying grazing on corn stalks, while we busily prepare the ranch for winter weather. This includes hauling hay to the home site and doing some last-minute fencing projects, so the cattle can be tucked in nice and cozy during the upcoming South Dakota cold and snowy winter.

From corn stalks, to bean stubble, to cover crops, there are many cheap feed options to consider this time of year to help get the cattle in good shape before winter hits. Allowing our cattle to graze these plentiful residual crops in the fall allows us to save expensive harvested hay for when the snow flies.


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This week, we’ve been giving away pairs of Heat Holders® socks to readers who have answered a question of the day. We are selecting winners each day via a drawing among the participants who send in comments. Thus far this week, we’ve discussed cull cows and buying replacement heifers or bred cows. Today, I want to switch gears and have a conversation about late fall and early winter forages.

But first, let’s announce yesterday’s winners, who answered the question, “What do you look for at a cattle sale?” The two randomly selected commenters are Justin Whitely and South Wind. Congratulations and thanks for participating!

Answering the question, Justin Whitley writes, “First of all, I don't like buying open cows and heifers. At dispersal sales, you have no way of knowing why they aren't pregnant, and it's a gamble if they'll get pregnant for you. I like to buy guaranteed pregnant or at least a cow with a calf by her side. She also has to fit within my current set calving season. I don't want to have to move things around just for one cow.”

South Wind adds, “Usually we buy bred heifers when we go to a sale. I look at pedigree and EPDs. I try to buy the sisters or first cousins of the high-selling animals at 60% of the high price. I've done it both ways and find the production of the high-priced female has never been what I hoped while the one I bought to fill out the load is still there 10 years later.”

Today, readers have another chance to win a pair of Heat Holders® socks, whose makers boast are “the warmest thermal socks in the world.” Three readers will be selected to win the day’s contest. Simply answer the question, “Which forages do you utilize in late fall and early winter, and why? To be eligible to win, simply leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Good luck!


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Discuss this Blog Entry 21

Alex Broussard (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We use round bales that consist of Bermuda and or Bahia that has been stored in barn. Also towards the end of September or early October we overseed Nelson tetraploid ryegrass with a mixture of clover to help with protein and not have to supplement as much.

M (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

Right now we are utilizing a few different options for feed before the winter sets in for good. I have some cows grazing turnips, radishes and rape that we seeded into some drown out areas. Got other cows running on corn stalks others yet on oats regrowth with turnips and radishes. We do have quite a few running on grass yet that ended up being stockpiled since it came so well this spring. Also have some cows on alfalfa ground that will be tore up and have a handful running on bean stubble. Basically doing whatever we can to save a little $ on feed and as you said save hay and stored feed for snow time when we really need it.

Chuck Tollefson (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

I graze regrowth after forage sorghum has been harvested, cows eat it to the ground. Cornstalks are getting harder to get cows to graze. Possibly biotech has altered the structure of the plant. I am not alone in this observation. (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

Here in southeast Ohio, we are utilizing stock piled fescue pasture for our herd. We have not yet fed any hay, and shouldn't have to until later in November. The above average rainfall we've had this year has made this a most welcome option for stretching out the grazing season.

Aaron Green (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

Here in North Texas we have the luxury of grazing them late on left over and late growth Johnson grass from the hay fields then broadcasting rye grass seeds in the fall for winter and early spring forage. The cost vs. gain for us is hugely in my favor with rye grass. First and foremost annual rye grass is cheap and with the benefits of no till, broadcast application, and withstanding freezes and our light snow its a win win. We do rotate them however on the rye grass. On 1 week off one week. The off week they are given hay in other adjoining native grass pastures. This will normally last us November through April.

DavVictor (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We have a rather small ranch and pasture separation and rotation helps prolong the grass and keep it healthy. Aside from that we supplement the grass by overseeding winter rye to extend the year a bit as it grows colder. This year we're also experimenting with rejuvenating a a plot of ground with a mix of winter wheat/clover/hairy vetch. This is likely to flow into my pastures this spring year since the wheat seems very easy to grow and the clover adds nitrates to the soil as well as being a great food source the next year or fall

Frank Schlichting (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We have the cows out on an Alfalfa hay field. We had an amazing year this year. We live in northern Canada. I have never seen as much pasture and such good hay yields. We got two cuttings of Alfalfa ( something that never happens) the regrowth from the last cutting is as good as the two crops that we took off! We will be weaning late since the cows are so fat and the calves are still gaining a lot of weight.

South Wind (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We stay in the pasture until corn harvested, then go to corn stalks. This year we flew in some turnips and rye over standing corn so may add some protein although the stand isn't too good

on Oct 30, 2013

I started feeding the fall cows last week fescue bales, but not a bunch of hay yet. The spring cows, and heifers are still out on pasture, and should be till the snow gets to deep. Got fescue, sudan, and some year old fescue hay to feed this year. Good year for grass!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

Our cattle are all on the grass hay fields. The regrowth of orchard, brome, festolium, and timothy after third cutting was mature enough to cut, but the weather didn't cooperate with rain coming about every 3 or 4 days so the cattle will have plenty of grass until January.

rising star (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

Winter wheat with free choice liquid feed and free choice hay. wheat is cheap to notill in and the liquid runs about 20 to 30 cents a day pretty cheap feed for the buck plus last all the way through winter were we dont get alot of snow and if we do they still have liquid available.

on Oct 30, 2013

Just wanted to know what you were using for liquid feed. I have used Mix 30 for about 6 years with good success .Wondering what other cattle producers were using. Thanks

Bill McLehaney (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We are in central Arkansas and have been fortunate to have had sufficient rain to still have summer grass growing. We have planted brassica (forage turnip), white clover, and ryegrass for grazing a little later on. We are putting out some hay now.

Daizy (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

I use the round bales. My hay in the winter is mixed grasses. Its what they eat in the summer and it keeps them fit and by feeding it in the winter their forage is at least consistant. I supply protein tubs and a sulfur block salt. I have a new venture with the bull calves. I will be raising them into herd bulls. I have registered Charolais and there is a huge demand for them. I will be feeding them a bit differently, as yet , I am undecided on what.

Tami Whitlock (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We had a dry year in Northern Calif., so I have recently been putting out big bales of a alfalfa/grass blend. I was looking at big bales of wheat hay but was able to get the alfalfa for just a little more. I also have a loose salt supplement that was specially blended for my area that I give the cattle free choice.

on Oct 30, 2013

Independently of the kind of forage you should routinely adjust the dry matter values of the forages and rations. The most effective method to do it is using Q-Dry: Precise, simple and automatic. For more information please watch this short video:

on Oct 30, 2013

So your advertising here now also.

Tauy Scott (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We graze crop residue. It saves us a few weeks of hay.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

We try to used stock piled fescue for cattle feed until the first of the year. The cows as calving begins we have set aside several quality bales for feed. Then move to a good grass pasture. If and depending on how bad winter gets, possibly a pound of grain/day. Trying to do as much on grass as possibly.

Dano (not verified)
on Oct 30, 2013

Corn stalks with supplemental protein tubs to aid digestibility.

W.E. (not verified)
on Nov 1, 2013

Stockpiled fescue is our mainstay this year. As it is grazed down, some is being overseeded with winter annuals for earlier spring grazing. Winfred brassica in a mix with lots of other things will bolster nutrition and provide early grazing next spring. Getting ready to move a couple of groups of cows to two different fields of corn stalks, with cereal rye from a 2012 aerial seeding over soybeans that has subsequently volunteered between corn rows. We intentionally allowed the remaining rye to go to seed last year, after removing the cattle and before no-till planting fairly late in spring. Everyone in the neighborhood thought we had lost our minds to farm so "ugly," but this was some of the best corn around. Those fields didn't suffer from dry weather or heat as did neighboring ones. The corn pollinated well and had big healthy ears. We agree that cattle don't like the stalks as well as they did before genetically altered. The second-crop rye will help with that, we hope. Since going to management-intensive grazing, the cows no longer need lick tubs; the replenished fertility of the land takes care of nutrient needs for the forages and, through them, for the cattle. Working with nature, not against it, is the plan, and the best one for us. Observe, respond, adapt. That's our paradigm, after a couple decades of beating our heads against the proverbial wall. Read Burke Teichert elsewhere on this site--one wise old cowboy!

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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